OBJECTIVE: To describe the natural history of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) after liver transplant, the predictors of PSC and IBD recurrence, and the interaction of these disease processes.METHODS: Data regarding patients who received liver transplants for PSC at the University of Alberta Hospital (Edmonton, Alberta) from 1989 to 2006 were retrospectively reviewed. Recurrent PSC (rPSC) was defined by the Mayo Clinic criteria. Cox proportional hazards modelling and Kaplan-Meier statistics were used.RESULTS: Fifty-nine patients were studied, with a median follow-up of 68 months. A total of 71.2% of patients were diagnosed with IBD pre-transplant. Clinical IBD severity post-transplant compared with severity pretransplant was unchanged in 67%, worse in 26.5% and improved in 6.1% of patients. Twenty-five per cent of patients developed rPSC post-transplant. The occurrence of at least one episode of acute cellular rejection (hazard ratio 5.7; 95% CI 1.3 to 25.8) and cytomegalovirus mismatch (hazard ratio 4.2; 95% CI 1.1 to 15.4) were found to be significant predictors of rPSC. Although not statistically significant, there was no rPSC in patients without pre- or post-transplant IBD, and in only one patient with a colectomy. Actuarial patient survival rates at one, five and 10 years post-transplant were 97%, 86% and 79%, respectively. Although a significant proportion of patients experienced worsening IBD post-transplantation, the presence or severity of IBD did not influence rPSC or patient survival.CONCLUSION: Acute cellular rejection and cytomegalovirus mismatch were both identified as independent predictors of rPSC. The impact of steroids and the ideal immunosuppressive regimen for the control of both IBD and PSC post-transplant requires further examination in prospective studies.